5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Being a meal card holder has its benefits. It’s awesome to have the perfect excuse to get out at 1730. It’s food you get to enjoy without having to cook it. All you have do is overlook the fact that the meals are deducted from your pay when you’re assigned a barracks room and the fact that there’s barely any chow left by the time you get there —but outside of those details, it’s great!

That optimism starts to wane, however, after eight months of eating the same seven entrees ad nauseam. Then, one glorious day, the cooks throw you a curve-ball by turning what’s normally a grab-and-go dinner into an elaborate, fine-dining experience.


You’ll rarely hear the lower enlisted complain when they’re about to get something that’s not just decent but actually really good. (In reality, lower enlisted troops would probably complain about being given a brick of gold because it’s “too heavy,” but that’s beside the point).

It might seem like random chance, but there’s a method to the madness.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Also, your chain of command will usually pop in to serve the food on the line. Savor that moment.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian Lautenslager)

Holidays

No one likes being stuck on-post during a holiday. If your leave form got denied or you just didn’t feel like putting in for a mileage pass, it often means your ass will be stuck on staff duty.

Thankfully, the cooks also get screwed out of block leave and work holidays with us. Even if it’s not a big holiday that revolves around a massive meal (we’re look at you, Thanksgiving), the cooks will still serve something festive.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

If you thought Air Force dinging facilities were leagues above the rest during the rest of the year…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

The lead-up to best-chef competitions

In the service, there’s a competition for cooks in which they’re expected to deliver a gourmet meal to a judge that has the emotionless vile of Gordon Ramsey with the knife-handing ability of a Drill Sergeant.

They don’t want to mess it up and will prepare the only way possible: by practicing. And that practice tastes delicious.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

“Can we get you anything else, Specialist? Steak sauce? Another drink? Another three months in this god-forsaken hellhole? How about some cake? We got cake!”

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson)

Right before the unit is about to get bad news

It’s basic psychology. If you outright tell the troops that their deployment got extended, they’re going to flip the tables over. If you break it to them gently over a steak-and-lobster dinner that somehow found its way to Afghanistan, they’ll take it slightly better.

This is so common in the military that any time the commander shows up and asks for a crate of ice cream bars for the troops, the Private News Network and Lance Corporal Underground buzz with rumors.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

You think they’ll serve the same scrambled eggs that they serve the average boot to the Commandant of the Marines? Hell no. Especially not if they get some kind of warning. That’s you cue to grab food and dash.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans)

When high-ranking officials make the rounds

Not even the cooks are exempt from the dog-and-pony show that comes with a general’s visit. In fact, while the other lower enlisted are scrubbing toilets in bathrooms the general will never realistically visit, the cooks know that the mess hall is the go-to spot to bring the generals to give them a “realistic” view of the unit.

If you’re willing to stomach the off-chance of being dragged into a conversation with a four-star general about “how the commander and first sergeant 100% absolutely always treat you like a real human being and that, oh boy, do you definitely love the unit,” then you’re in for one of the best meals the cooks can offer.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Everyone loves the cooks on Taco Tuesday.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

Taco Tuesday (and any other themed meal days)

There’s no way in hell any troop would willingly miss Taco Tuesday at the DFAC. Even if you don’t post flyers about it, troops will magically crawl out of the woodwork if it means they’re getting free tacos.

As much as everyone in the unit uses their cooks as punching bags for jokes, they can deliver some mighty fine meals when they try.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Jeep: The necessity of innovation

Long before the development of JEEP prototypes, soldiers nicknamed a tractor that hauled guns as a JEEP because that’s all they had available to move equipment and soldiers. As the U.S. prepared to enter WWII, we were faced with a super slow logistics issue – mules, horses, and traditional battlefield movements were just too slow for the modern battlefield. Since U.S. military planners knew that eventually, the U.S. was going to have to get involved with WWII, they quickly realized that the only way to ensure a victory would be to revisit their approach to troop and equipment movement.


We had no guns or equipment 

The Army was ill-equipped to handle entering a global conflict, thanks in part to neglect, budget constrictions and typical Washington bureaucracy. Remember that for our role in WWI, we had to borrow howitzers from the French because we were so underfunded and had no arsenal or weapons stockpiles. It was just about the same setting for WWII, only with a greater sense of impending doom.

Horses and mules were just too slow 

Just like planners in WWI recognized that light infantry fire wasn’t going to win a trench war, planners in WWII quickly saw that the reliance on horses and mules to transport equipment was antiquated and slow.

WWI showed strategists that four-wheel trucks and motorized transports were not only faster at moving across the battlefield but could move troops and weaponry in and out with greater consistency. This not only could save lives, but it could save morale, too. After all, who wants to be stranded in the middle of a field somewhere?

A committee is formed

In true Army fashion, a committee was formed to study the “need” for light motorized transport vehicles that could support infantry and cavalry troops. The Army concluded that there were no vehicles available on the civilian market that could hold up in combat – nothing was durable and rugged enough to handle the terrain or the weight load of the equipment that needed to be moved.

The Army hoped to find a small go-anywhere recon scout car that might help deliver battlefield messages, transmit orders, and function as a weapons carrier. But the commission failed to locate a vehicle that could support the needs of the Army, so they turned to the civilian sector to see if any American companies could design this kind of vehicle from scratch.

In June 1940, 134 bid invitations were sent to companies that might be able to design the kind of vehicle that would suit the Army’s needs. The bid was on a short deadline, though, since we were fighting a war, and gave the companies just one month to come up with something. That’s tough even by today’s standards but almost impossible in 1940 before the computerization of draft work. Because of the short deadline, just two companies responded to the Army’s call – American Bantam and Willys-Overland. These were the only two companies still selling four-cylinder vehicles, and they both specialized in selling cars smaller than the (then) American standard size car. Both companies were relatively small and on the brink of bankruptcy, proving the old adage, “Necessity breeds innovation.”

Bantam gets the contract for a few weeks 

The drawings submitted by Willys-Overland weren’t nearly as comprehensive as the plans provided by Bantam Car Company. So Bantam was awarded the contract, and an order for 70 vehicles was placed. However, Bantam was such a small company that the Army worried it wouldn’t be able to meet the military’s needs once the war effort ramped up. So, while they loved the concept that Bantam presented, the Army ultimately sought out Ford Motor Company and reinvented Willys-Overland to rejoin the mission.

Both companies, Ford and Willy-Overland, watched the Bantam car’s testing and were allowed to examine the vehicle and the blueprints. Then, both designed their own vehicle based on Bantam’s designs.

Testing took forever but one company emerged 

All three companies submitted new designs, and their vehicles were tested over and over, with little tweaks made along the way. By the end of the trials, each company has a finalized design to submit for bidding. Ford called its vehicle the GP, Willys-Overland called theirs the Willys MA, and Bantam came up with the very original name of the BRC-40 and the MK II. In all, thousands of prototypes were built, tested, and discarded.

The prototypes shared the same military designations for a truck, ¼ ton, 4×4. No one knows precisely where the word “JEEP” comes from, but since all of the Army vehicles are General Purpose, and since soldiers love a good acronym, it’s more than likely that someone along the way slurred the GP into what we now know as JEEP.

In 1941, on being interviewed by a journalist about the type of vehicle he was driving, a soldier replied that it was a JEEP and the name stuck. Willys-Overland, whose vehicle the soldier happened to be driving, quickly trademarked the name. During the war, JEEPS were modified to operate in desert conditions, plow snow, and function as a fire truck, ambulance, and tractor. They were capable of laying cable, operating as generators, and could be reconfigured to become a small railroad engine. JEEPS were small enough to be loaded onto aircraft, could fit in gliders, and were a significant part of the D-Day invasion.

As we know them now, JEEPS are as much a part of military culture as they are part of regular driving vehicles. Who knew that their predecessors could have been reconfigured to be so useful for wartime battlefield operations?

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is not happy about the extra 300 Marines headed to Norway

Russia has vowed to retaliate against a plan by Norway to more than double the number of U.S. Marines stationed in the country.

The Russian Embassy in Oslo issued the warning on June 14, 2018, two days after Norway announced it will ask the United States, its NATO ally, to send 700 Marines starting 2019.

The move came amid increasing wariness among nations bordering Russia following Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014.


The Russian Embassy said that Norway’s plan, if realized, would make Norway “less predictable and could cause growing tensions, triggering an arms race, and destabilizing the situation in northern Europe.”

“We see it as clearly unfriendly, and it will not remain free of consequence,” it said in a statement.

Some 330 U.S. Marines currently are scheduled to leave Norway at the end of 2018 after an initial contingent arrived in January 2017 to train for fighting in winter conditions. They were the first foreign troops to be stationed in Norway, a member of NATO, since World War II.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen, Norwegian Chief of Defence, tour the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway in the Frigaard Cave, Sept. 20, 2017.
(DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told reporters on June 12, 2018, that the additional U.S. troops would be based closer to the border with Russia in the Inner Troms region in the Norwegian Arctic, about 420 kilometers from Russia, rather than in central Norway.

Soereide also said that the decision to increase the U.S. presence has broad support in parliament and does not constitute the establishment of a permanent U.S. base in Norway.

The initial decision to welcome the Marines irked Russia, with Moscow warning that it would worsen bilateral relations with Oslo.

NATO’s massive exercise Trident Juncture 18 is due to take place in and around Norway in October-November 2018.

All 29 NATO allies, as well as Finland and Sweden, will participate in the drills, which will involve some 40,000 troops, 70 ships, and 130 aircraft.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Organizations try to help USCG as members miss first paycheck

Twenty-four days into the longest government shutdown in US history, the strain is being felt acutely by the US Coast Guard, as some 42,000 active-duty members are preparing to miss their first paycheck on Jan. 15, 2019.

In a Jan. 10, 2019 letter, Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray said that without an appropriation or funding measure, “the Coast Guard will not be able to meet the next payroll,” an extreme disruption that officials averted in late December 2018 by moving funds around.


“Let me assure you your leadership continues to do everything possible, both internal and external to the Service, to ensure we can process your pay as soon as we receive an appropriation,” Ray added. “However, I do not know when that will occur.”

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

(The 621st Contingency Response Wing)

The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps are funded through the Defense Department, which got it its fiscal year 2019 budget in the fall, and none of their troops are missing a paycheck.

But the Coast Guard, while technically a military branch, is funded through the Homeland Security Department, funding for which has been held up amid a dispute between President Donald Trump and Congress over .7 billion Trump wants to start construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border.

A work-around secured funding for Coast Guard payroll on Dec. 31, 2018, paying the service’s active-duty members and reservists who drilled before funding lapsed, but service leaders have said it cannot be repeated. Civilian employees are unpaid since Dec. 21, 2018.

Active-duty members deemed essential have continued working, as have about 1,300 civilian workers. Most of the service’s 8,500 civilian employees have been furloughed, and pay and benefits for some 50,000 retired members and employees could be affected.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

US Coast Guard ice-rescue team members participate in training on Lake Champlain at Coast Guard Station Burlington, Burlington, Vermont, Feb. 17, 2017.

(US Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Mattison)

The service continues to operate, however.

In the Coast Guard’s 14th district, which covers 12.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, 835 active-duty personnel and some civilians are still working from bases in Hawaii and Guam and detachments in Japan and Singapore, carrying out “essential operations” such as search-and-rescue and law enforcement, 14th district spokeswoman Chief Sara Muir told Stars and Stripes.

Between Dec. 21, 2018, and Jan. 7, 2019, the district handled 46 cases, including two major ones, Muir said. On Jan. 13, 2019, Coast Guard personnel medevaced a crew member off a fishing vessel 80 miles north of Kauai.

Other operations, like recreational-vessel safety checks and issuing or renewing licenses and other administrative work, has been curtailed. The service has said vendors who provide fuel and other services also won’t be paid until funding resumes.

As the shutdown drags on, communities around the country have mustered to support Coast Guard members and families, particularly junior members, many of whom lack savings.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Sand Key, Florida, take part in survival swim training, Dec. 8, 2017.

(US Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse)

On Jan. 12, 2019, dozens of northern Michigan residents gathered for a silent auction and donation event, with funds raised going toward expenses like rent, medical bills, and heating for service members and their families.

“Whenever you cannot predict when you’re gonna get your next paycheck, but you know exactly when the bills are due, it causes a lot of stress,” Kenneth Arbogast, a retired Coast Guard chief petty officer, told UpNorthLive.com. “And for younger members, young families, that’s really a challenge.”

On Jan. 13, 2019, more than 600 service members, including 168 families, gathered in Alameda, California, for a giveaway organized by the East Bay Coast Guard Spouses Club, providing them with everything from fresh fruit to diapers.

“It’s worrisome. I have to put food in my family’s belly,” said Coast Guard mechanic Kyle Turcott, who is working without pay. “Ain’t no telling, we may not get paid until the first of next month,” added Nathan Knight, another service member.

The organizers said they were working on another food drive and could host another distribution event this week.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Coast Guard cutter Munro passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on its way into the Bay Area, April 6, 2017.

(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton)

On Jan. 14, 2019, Thomas Edison State University in New Jersey announced that Coast Guard students affected by the shutdown would be able to defer payments until tuition assistance was available again. The school has 135 active-duty students — 27 of whom are registered for February 2019.

In Rhode Island, Roger Williams University said that on Jan. 15, 2019, it would offer free dining-hall meals to active-duty Coast Guard members and their families from Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

Navy Federal Credit Union, which serves military members, veterans, and civilian Defense Department employees, has said it would offer no-interest loans up to ,000 to workers affected by the shutdown, with repayment automatically deducted from paychecks once direct-deposit resumes.

In his Jan. 10, 2019 letter, Ray also said that the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Board had increased the interest-free loans it was offering, focusing on junior members, allowing those with dependents to get up to id=”listicle-2626058172″,000.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Crewmembers of the Coast Guard cutter Mohawk and Tactical Law Enforcement Team South on a self-propelled semi-submersible, July 3, 2018.

(US Coast Guard photo)

In Texas, Coast Guard noncommissioned officers have raised money through local chapters of the Coast Guard Petty Officers Association. In early January 2019, they brought in food to cook at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, encouraging younger service members to take food home.

Erin Picou, whose husband is a chief petty officer with 17 years experience, said her family could cover the most important bills, but the mortgage for their house, on which they spent their savings six months ago, is less certain.

“It’s pretty scary. I don’t want the bank to take my new house,” Picou told The San Antonio Express-News.

“I can’t speak for them, but I myself think my husband has worked his ass off. He needs to get a paycheck,” Picou added. “It’s hard to focus on search and rescue if you don’t know whether your kids and family are going to have a roof over their head and food on the table.”

Measures have been introduced to Congress to ensure pay for Coast Guard members. However, Ray said, “I cannot predict what course that legislation may take.”

In a Facebook post on Jan. 13, 2019, Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz told service members the branch was continuing “228 years of military service around the globe,” including preparations for yearly ice-clearing in Antarctica, maritime-security operations in the Middle East, and drug interdictions in Central and South America.

“While our Coast Guard workforce is deployed, there are loved ones at home reviewing family finances, researching how to get support, and weighing childcare options — they are holding down the fort,” Schultz wrote.

“Please know that we are doing everything we can to support and advocate for you while your loved one stands the watch,” he added. “You have not, and will not, be forgotten.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How the Army museum is shaping up to be an amazing tribute to all soldiers

Museums aren’t just buildings constructed to hold relics of a bygone era so that bored school kids can sleepily shuffle around them. They’re rich representations of lives once lived; they’re a way to reflect on those who came before us so that we can learn the history of the men and women who shaped the world we all live in today.

This is what the National Museum of the United States Army, currently under construction at Fort Belvoir, VA, will offer once it’s opened to the public in 2020. As a living museum, it will encompass the full military history of the United States Army, from its humble beginnings as ragtag colonial militiamen in 1636 to the elite fighting force it is today — all to inspire the soldiers of tomorrow.


5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the kid’s learning center probably won’t include a “shark attack” as the very first attraction.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Casey Holley)

The construction of an Army museum has been a long time coming. Before ground was broken in September, 2016, the Army was the only branch of the Department of Defense without a standing national museum. It’s got a lofty price-tag of 0 million, but it’s actually paid for mostly through donors. Over 700,000 individuals and many corporations have given to museum.

The 84-acre site, where the installation’s golf course used to be, sits just thirty minutes from Arlington National Cemetery and will be open to the public. The 185,000 square-foot exterior of the building is already completed, but the interior is still under construction. The museum also has four of largest artifacts in place as the building needed to be constructed around them. It also has the potential to hold countless other artifacts, documents, and images, along with many pieces of artwork made by soldiers and veterans, or for the soldiers and veterans, on display.

Along with the historical exhibits will house the “Experiential Learning Center” for the kids. The area surrounding the museum will include an amphitheater, memorial garden, parade ground, and a trail to give the patrons a taste of life in the Army in both a fun and informative way.

This is amazing for many different reasons. First and foremost, it’s something that everyone should learn about. Every generation of soldier will have their own dedicated area of the museum and through a vast collection of artifacts, you’ll be able to see the evolution of our country’s defenders. Over 30 million men and women have served, and through the museum, all of them, across the nearly 250 years of history, will be represented on some manner.

It’ll also give veterans a place to take their kids of grandkids and say, “this is where we fought. This is why we fought. And this is how we did it.”

The museum seems to be striking the perfect balance between being light enough to keep children entertained while also being perfectly honoring all who have served in the Army.

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 reasons being E-4(ish) mafia is the best

Every military branch makes it plain where exactly you stand. It is worn on your uniform, printed on your CAC, you are greeted by it every day. “It” is rank and it plays a significant role as it entails your duties and expectations, job notwithstanding. It seems one rank reigns supreme in every service, though.


Below are 6 of the top reasons why being top of the lower enlisted ranks is the best rank.

Related:5 reasons MPs hate on firefighters

6. It’s the “25” of ranks

25 is the age that many of us have the time of our lives. We are far enough removed from teenage angst and the crap that often associates with it but still a lot more than a few wake-ups away from the big three-oh.

Old enough to get good insurance rates, but young enough to fit in most everywhere.

That is the Air Force’s Senior Airman. That is the Marine’s Lance Corporal. That is the Army’s Specialist. This is the Navy’s Seaman (heh). It’s far enough removed from boot but quite a ways from retirement.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
A toast to the good life. (Image from Warner Bros’ The Great Gatsby).

5. Watch and learn

This is the perfect rank to watch and learn.

You may have been mentored and exposed to some supervisory duties earlier (if you weren’t assigned to a POS) but it’s at this level where you are allowed to flex some of what you’ve learned.

Sometimes that power comes in an official supervisory capacity, sometimes as a makeshift assistant to your actual supervisor. It’s like being a Non-Commissioned Officer, but with training wheels.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
A SrA trying to explain how things go to a brand new Airman. (Image from Warner Bros’ Caddyshack).

4. Respect

The opinion of the Senior Airman/Specialist/Lance Corporal is respected. Those beneath the look up to them, or they should anyway, and those who outrank them will look to them as the bridge between the NCO and junior enlisted tiers.

It is literally the best of both worlds.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
When you finally gain respect. (Image from Toonami’s Dragon Ball Z).

3. Introductory supervisory roles

As stated above, you may have some actual, official supervisor duties depending on how long you’ve been there and what type of performance you’ve turned in to that point.

Even if you haven’t been granted such access, you are still going to be entrusted with certain responsibilities just based on the necessity for you to grow up and fill the role.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
A SSgt explaining the basics to their prized SrA.

2. You know all the tricks

At this point, you know what you’re supposed to be doing and how to do it, most of the time. You also know exactly what you’re not supposed to do…and what rules will really get you in trouble.

You know how to maximize your sleep and how to quickly get your uniform together. You can commit large passages of regulation to memory, verbatim. You know what you’re doing and what you want to do.

Good news is you’ve mastered this rank just in time to promote. Now the game changes.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
All SrA watching younger Airmen think they’re getting away with something. (Image from Paramount Pictures’ Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory).

Also read: 7 of the top surprises veterans face going to school

1. Perfect purgatory

You rest in nearly a perfect position.

You’ve been in for a some time now and have likely earned a good amount of respect and responsibility and that feels great. Conversely, you’re still junior enlisted yourself and won’t be thrown into the deep end just yet.

How is this better than being an NCO? From my experience in the Air Force, Staff Sergeants are typically viewed in a more infantile manner than the Senior Airman.

I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Still, it is a fact of life.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
Glorious freedom. (Image from Warner Bros’ 300).

MIGHTY CULTURE

Green Beret behind the Afghan SOF Strategy, Scott Mann, talks leadership

*My editor sent me this after listening to the episode:
“I wanted to let you know that this was by far one of my favorite episodes to edit. It provided great insight into leadership skills.”*

The Professionals Playbook” t-shirts are now available here.

My guest today is Scott Mann who spent 23 years as an Officer in the United States Army, 18 of those as a Green Beret in Army Special Forces, where he specialized in unconventional missions in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan.


He is the author of two international best-selling books: Game Changers and Straight Talk About Military Transition.

He’s also given 3 TED talks.

In our conversation we talk about how Green Berets build rapport with local tribes, how he almost took his life after leaving the military, and how leaders can connect with their people.

Order of Topics:

  • Using SOF training for COVID-19
  • How Green Berets compare to other SOF units
  • How to go into a village and establish trust
  • Interpersonal techniques
  • Architect of the Afghan SOF program
  • Almost committing suicide
  • How to transition from the military
  • Green Beret principals
  • How to build relationships
  • Leadership training

Sign up for my newsletter for a few useful and insightful things that have helped me over the last month. You can sign up here.

LinkedIn– Justin Hasard Lee
Instagram– @justinfighterpilot
Facebook–@justinfighterpilot

This episode was edited by Trevor Cabler

You can review the show by tapping here and scrolling to the bottom where it says: “Write a Review.” Thanks for the support ?

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What really happens when a soldier goes AWOL

Joining the military isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Even if you sign up to be a mechanic or a veterinarian, you’re committing to a cause much larger than yourself. If you’re needed on the war front, you’ll be sent there. If you’re needed in battle, you’ll fight. Orders are given for a reason, and following them isn’t optional. 

For that reason, not showing up to your post is a big deal. Legally, soldiers who show up late or not at all can be punished severely. In practice, that’s not the whole story. 

Why is going AWOL such a big deal?

The culture of the US military is a huge departure from civilian life. In the military, individual freedom isn’t really a thing. Military members are like cogs in a machine. To run smoothly and safely, everyone must do the jobs assigned to them. When they don’t, the machine starts falling apart. During the Civil War, desertion was a crippling problem. Military forces simply can’t function properly when people don’t show up to the job they agreed to do. 

People go AWOL for a number of reasons.

The reasons for going AWOL, or absent without leave, vary. Technically, even briefly abandoning your post or showing up late is considered being absent without leave. When most people refer to going AWOL, however, they’re referring to desertion. After you’ve been AWOL for over 30 days, you’re considered a deserter. Desertion happens for countless reasons, like:

  • Having unrealistic expectations going in
  • Failing to adjust to military life
  • Experiencing issues with family while deployed
  • Avoidance of hazardous assignments
  • Issues with substance abuse

These are just a few of the many reasons that soldiers abandon their duties. Some simply have a change of heart. When they experience the stark reality of war, some soldiers decide they can no longer support it and flee. Regardless of the reason, shirking your responsibilities is a serious offense, with serious consequences. 

To deter would-be deserters, the maximum sentences are intimidating. 

If a service member fails to go to the appointed place of duty (I.E. shows up late or leaves early), they can be confined for a month, reduced to the lowest enlisted grade, and lose two-thirds of their pay for a month. If they’re absent from their place of duty for over three days but less than 30, they can be confined for six months, reduced to the lowest enlisted grade, and lose two thirds of their pay for up to six months.

The punishments for desertion are more severe. If a member deserts but returns to military control of their own free will, they risk losing all pay, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, dishonorable discharge, and confinement for two years. If they desert during a time of war, a court-martial can legally order life in prison, or even death. 

As terrifying as it sounds, in the 21st century, going AWOL is rarely punished so severely. 

The descriptions above, along with the full list here, demonstrate the maximum legal sentences. In practice, the military seldom actually presses charges to the fullest extent of the law. If you’re a minute or two late, you’re more likely to get a warning than a month of confinement. During the Iraq War, only about five percent of deserters were court-martialed, and hardly any served a day of jail time. 

For the most part, jail time is reserved for those whose absence was particularly detrimental to the mission. Those who advocate for desertion publicly are also likely to get to know the inside of a jail cell. For everyone else, you’re more likely to leave with a Bad Conduct Discharge and a slap on the wrist. (Along with losing the respect of all your superiors and the military community, of course.) 

The best way to limit the consequences of going AWOL? Own up.

If you’re currently AWOL, turning yourself in is by far the wisest choice. The longer you’re absent, the less likely you are to “get away” with desertion. Coming clean isn’t fun, but being honest is looked upon far more favorably than hiding. You should also consider using an attorney who specializes in military law to speak on your behalf so you know what to expect when you return to base. 

With all of that in mind, the only surefire way to avoid punishment is not to go AWOL in the first place. If you’re not 100% sure you can commit to military life and everything it entails, don’t enlist. If you’ve already enlisted, take your oath seriously and hang in there. You’ll thank yourself later.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Infantry Marines are now getting lighter, more streamlined body armor

The Marine Corps has started fielding a new plate carrier vest that features a more streamlined cut and offers a 25% weight savings over the vests Marines currently wear.

The new Plate Carrier Generation III will go first to infantry and other combat-arms Marines and then to supporting units in a push to reach full operational capability by fiscal 2023, according to a recent Marine Corps Systems Command announcement.


The Corps selected Vertical Protective Apparel LLC in September 2018 to manufacture up to 225,886 of the lighter and better-fitting Plate Carrier Generation III in an effort to increase the performance of Marines on the battlefield.

“When you lighten the load, Marines can get to their destinations faster, and they’re going to have more endurance, which increases their lethality,” Lt. Col. Andrew Konicki, the program manager for Infantry Combat Equipment at Marine Corps Systems Command, said in a statement. “The PC Gen. III is important because it is nearly 25-percent lighter than the legacy technology.”

Military.com reached out to Systems Command for the average weight of the PC Gen. III compared to the current plate carrier but did not receive an immediate response.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

The Marine Corps conducted a study in 2016 using the prototype of the new plate carrier, which involved Marines wearing it while running through obstacle courses and taking a 15-kilometer hike, according to the release. The study results showed that Marines completed the courses faster and appeared better conditioned when wearing the newer plate carrier design, it states.

Program officials worked with industry to remove excess bulk from the legacy plate carrier to reduce weight and give Marines more freedom of movement for handling weapons.

The material of the PC Gen. III reduces water absorption, and designers shaved bulk from the vest by cutting out excess fabric from around the shoulders.

“The PC Gen. III improves the Marines’ ability to shoot and move by eliminating excess bulk from the design, and cutting out the shoulders for a better rifle stock weld,” Lt. Col. Bryan Leahy, who leads the Individual Armor Team at PM ICE, said in the release.

The PC Gen. III is better-fitting than the current vest. It fits closer to the body, increasing protection and decreasing the risk of injury because of improper fit, according to the release.

The Marine Corps also added more sizes, so nearly 15,000 more male and female Marines will be able to get a proper fit when wearing the system, it adds.

“I think there’s a misconception that all females are small, and that’s not always true,” said Konicki. “We conducted a study that found the smallest Marine is actually male.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What happened aboard the Carl Vinson during Bin Laden’s burial at sea

The dreaded announcement came through the 1MC: River City. If being deployed in the middle of the ocean isn’t bad enough, try being deployed in the middle of the ocean with no comms.

The unfamiliar sound of a V-22 Osprey overpowered the sound of normal flight operations. The updates kept rolling through; starting from the flight deck down to the hangar bays, everything is secured. The rumors start to flow through the grapevine. You can hear the whispers and feel the electricity in the air. Nobody has any information, but everyone knows.

We got him.


5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

A plane captain directs and oversees the landing and take-off of a V22 Osprey.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Katie Earley)

It was the only email that was fired off before comms were shut down. The surveillance screen of the flight deck runs 24/7 on all screens throughout the airwing, but today they were all blacked out. The only channel working was CNN. The feeling was odd. We didn’t know anything that was happening except for what we were watching live on TV. We were there, yet we knew nothing. Every sailor was glued to a screen, reading the ticker and waiting for the headlines.

The rumors were confirmed: We got Osama bin Laden and his body is on our ship. The entire ship erupted like Times Square at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Sailors man a mounted .50 caliber on the looking out.

Images taken from WikiCommons.

I ran down to the aft part of the ship and poked my head out of a hatch leading to the flight deck. There were two MAs standing guard that immediately turned me around and told me to get inside. Before I reversed course, I got a glimpse of two men dragging a body out of the helicopter.

The worst part about securing the hangar bay was that the chow hall was on the level beneath it — and the only access to it was through it. Starving, we sat around snacking on Snickers from a Costco pack my mom had mailed to me. When the next rotation shift came on and asked us what was happening, we jokingly told the new shift to line up down by the hangar bay because they were letting us hit bin Laden’s body with wiffle ball bats. I also told them to tell the MAs that they were there for the wiffle ball party and that Petty Officer Kim had sent them.

We weren’t hitting him with bats, but the next shift must have really asked about the wiffle party because a few minutes later, I was called into the ready room and getting chewed out by the chief’s mess about never taking anything seriously and being a bad example to the younger guys. My division chief was an inch away from my face, screaming. I could practically taste his lunch. I guess chow was only secured for E6 and below.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Sailors fire a .50-caliber machine gun during a pre-action calibration fire exercise aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67)

(US Navy)

We were told, “officially,” that the body was prepared in accordance to the Muslim religion: wrapped in a white garb, buried on his right side, and oriented northeast to face Mecca. Off-record, we were told that they verified his DNA and they tossed him over the side.

Officially, no country would accept responsibility of the body, so it was laid to rest at sea. Unofficially, I think we didn’t want his burial site to become a martyr’s shrine.

Either way, the mighty back-to-back World War champions found the world’s foremost hide seek expert. If you can’t beat him, kill him.

* Editor’s Note: This article was updated to clarify that the sailors weren’t actually hitting Bin Laden’s body with bats. Petty Officer Kim jokingly said the line to the next shift.*

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why any war with China will get Americans drafted

Every era has its arch-nemesis. The Nazis, the Communists, and the Terrorists all seemed to come in succession. Now, it seems America’s new arch-rivals are making their presence known. After spending a decade or more in its “peaceful rise” era, the People’s Republic of China appears to have switched to “Crouching Tiger.” President Trump has responded in kind, meeting aggression with aggression, which raises the stakes.

But that also means a lot of civilians are gonna get drafted if and when the war comes. The Infographics Show will tell you why.


The video above wargames China mobilizing its forces to invade Taiwan. When it does, the U.S. military would move to DEFCON 3, requiring the U.S. Air Force to be able to mobilize in 15 minutes or less. Once China’s invasion force starts boarding ships to land on Taiwan, the United States will be at DEFCON 2, which requires all the armed forces to be ready for war at the front in six hours. By the time the U.S. Navy engages Chinese Air Forces, Chinese ballistic missiles will have already targeted Naval air assets in the Pacific, killing thousands of American troops.

In the first month of fighting, the casualties will mount, and they will be heavy. The number of killed and wounded will reach the levels last seen in the Vietnam War. In less than a year, it would be the bloodiest war since World War II. And guess what? The military is gonna need replacements.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

If it helps any, Beijing doesn’t seem that far away on this map.

The Chinese military numbers some two million or more with another half million in reserve. Since the most likely flashpoint is the tiny but democratic American ally of Taiwan, just off China’s coastline, the fighting will be focused, but intense, and casualties would be enormous. The United States would call on its 860,000-plus reservists to bolster its forces in the area. While that would be enough to counter the Chinese threat to Taiwan, it would not be enough to forcibly topple the Chinese government. That would require an invasion of mainland China, and that would be really, really hard.

To successfully invade China would require so many troops, the United States doesn’t currently have that many. It would have to activate the Selective Service System, instituting a draft for American males between the ages of 18-25, a potential pool of 16 million American troops. While it’s unlikely the U.S. will have to draft the entire 16 million, it will need a lot of troops to get to Beijing.

A lot of troops who aren’t just going to volunteer for that sort of thing. Don’t forget to register for Selective Service.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The new US experimental helicopter is cleared for flight tests

When talking the future of helicopters, the Sikorsky S-97 Raider has been figuring prominently in the discussion. This is because the Raider holds the potential for high performance not seen since the AH-56 Cheyenne took to the skies. Now it has gotten its “test flight” card, and according to DefenseNews.com, the Raider will get its chance to show its stuff.

The Raider had a bit of a setback last year when the first prototype had what was called a “hard landing” (really a delicate way of saying it crashed). The Raider uses what is known as X2 technology, which uses a combination of counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher in the tail to attain high speeds. While the Raider itself has only pushed past 150 knots, the X2 demonstrator blew past 250 knots in 2010.


Plans call for the Raider to push past 200 knots in the testing. The Raider is seen as a contender for armed reconnaissance missions, where two other helicopters, the RAH-66 Comanche and the ARH-70 Arapaho, did not manage to reach front-line service. The OH-58 Kiowa Warrior was retired, and the scout mission was passed to the AH-64 Apache.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

The S-97 Raider is seen as a contender for the armed reconnaissance role.

(Lockheed Martin graphic)

The Raider and the larger SB-1 Defiant are among the designs contending for all or part of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. The goal of this program is to replace the current Army helicopters, including the classic UH-60 Blackhawk, CH-47 Chinook, and AH-64 Apache with more advanced airframes through a series of Joint Multi-Role Helicopters.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

The S-97 uses a pusher rotor, much like that on the AH-56 Cheyenne.

(Lockheed Martin photo)

The plan is to shrink the current inventory from 25 types of helicopters and tiltrotors to as few as five: JMR-Light, a new scout helicopter; JMR Medium-Light; JMR-Medium, which will replace the AH-64 and UH-60; JMR-Heavy, a replacement for the CH-47; and JMR-Ultra, which will combine the payload and performance of the C-130J with vertical lift capability.

The first of these next-generation helicopters could emerge as soon as 2027. But we are getting a glimpse at what they will be able to do now.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Your computer’s keyboard is a disgusting petrie dish

Your computer keyboard is probably dirtier than a toilet seat.

In fact, an Australian study found that the typical desk has 400 times the amount of bacteria found on a toilet seat.

Toilet seats actually harbor around 50 bacteria per square inch, making that a relatively un-germy zone. Not so with the computer, especially those shared by multiple people. One Chicago hospital found that its computer keyboards held drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus like MRSA for up to 24 hours. Another hospital in the Netherlands studied 100 of its keyboards and found that 95 tested positive for Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and other pathogens, making them the dirtiest surfaces in the intensive care unit.


Considering how frequently we use computers, it’s understandable that dirt constantly gets lodged in between the keys. We’ve all rushed to type something quickly after being out and about, eaten meals at our computers, and typed while simultaneously dealing with sticky substances.

Those of us who use computers at work talk, sneeze, and cough on the keys all day long, too.

When to clean your keyboard

Most microbiologists agree that everyone should wipe down their desk and keyboard at least once a week.

Doctors and nurses at the National Center for Health Research (NCHR) suggest that hospital keyboards should be disinfected much more often, though: at least once per day. The NCHR also suggests washing hands before and after using any shared computers, especially during flu season.

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff
(Flickr photo by Pete)

If you’re the only one using your computer (and you’re not touching many people throughout the day), most of the bacteria on your keyboard comes from your own hands and fingertips, so it probably isn’t doing you any harm.

Still, wash your hands frequently to keep your desk space clean for longer.

How to clean your keyboard

Cleaning and disinfecting your keyboard is a simple process, and it works.

First, shut the computer down and unplug it before you start disinfecting. Then get rid of any crumbs or grit stuck on the keyboard with a can of compressed air before giving the keys a wipe.

Cleaning expert Melissa Maker recommends using a solution of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol, and applying it using a microfiber cloth. You can also use a q-tip dipped in alcohol to get between the keys.

While you’re at it, consider giving your phone a cleansing swipe, too. Smartphones can easily pick up E. coli and Streptococcus bugs because we handle them so frequently and take them everywhere with us.

Philip Tierno, a microbiologist and pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine suggests giving your phone a good wipe down at the end of each day.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information